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Is Asparagus a hangover cure? If you’re asking the question, the chances are that you’ve tried every trick in the book and still looking for the next natural remedy.
It’s hard to separate the hangover facts from the fads nowadays as you’ll find that people claiming practically everything is a hangover cure.
In this article, we’re going to take a detailed look at whether asparagus works as a hangover remedy. We’ll do this by seeing what the nutrients in asparagus are and if they have any alcohol-related benefits. We’ll also review all the current research papers on the topic to give you an up-to-date scientific answer.
So, with the introductions out of the way, let’s start taking a closer look at Asparagus as a hangover cure.
Nutrients in Asparagus
Asparagus is low in calories but boasts an impressive nutrient profile. In fact, just half a cup (100 grams) of asparagus contains approximately:
- Calories: 20
- Fat: 0.2 grams
- Protein: 2.0 grams
- Fiber: 2.0 grams
- Vitamin C: 113% of the DV (Daily required value)
- Vitamin K: 60% of the DV
- Folate: 35% of the DV
- Potassium: 5% of the DV
- Vitamin A: 20% of the DV
- Phosphorous: 5% of the DV
- Vitamin E: 7% of the DV
Asparagus, like other green vegetables, is high in antioxidants. These include vitamin E, vitamin C, as well as various flavonoids and polyphenols. Asparagus is particularly high in the flavonoids quercetin, isorhamnetin and kaempferol.
Antioxidants neutralize “free-radicals”. These are produced as a consequence of normal metabolism. Periods of over-indulgence like drinking alcohol can greatly increase the free-radical load on your body which is where antioxidants could play an important role.
The bottom line: Asparagus is a decent source of antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, flavonoids and polyphenols. Next up we’ll look into how alcohol affects the body and whether asparagus can negate the negatives.
What are the causes of a hangover?
The science of hangovers is complicated as alcohol negatively affects your body in several different ways. Firstly, alcohol is a diuretic which means it makes you pee more urine. If you don’t match the extra fluid loss, drinking alcohol can leave you dehydrated. Dry mouth, lethargy, and feeling are just some of the symptoms of dehydration that you’re probably familiar with after a big night out.
Secondly, alcohol significantly reduces your sleep quality. It does so by preventing you from reaching the REM stage of sleep. REM sleep is essential for having a good night’s sleep so that you feel fully rested. Even though you think you’ve had enough hours of sleep, 8 hours with alcohol onboard is not the same as without.(1)
Finally, when alcohol is metabolized in your liver, toxic by-products such as acetaldehyde are produced. In normal circumstances, acetaldehyde is quickly broken down into acetic acid which is harmless. However, during periods of over-indulgence, acetaldehyde levels start to build which wreaks havoc on your insides.(2)
Dehydration, poor sleep quality and inflammation caused by acetaldehyde and other by-products of alcohol metabolism are just some of the causes of a hangover.
Now that we’ve got the science out the way, let’s see if eating asparagus is able to protect your body from a hangover by mitigating the damaging effects of alcohol.
Is Asparagus good for a hangover?
A quick search online will bring up articles that say asparagus is a hangover cure based on a study in 2009.(3)
This study looked at whether asparagus protected liver cells in a petri dish from alcohol’s negative effects. Their results showed that asparagus significantly reduced inflammation markers.
In addition, they also looked at whether asparagus had any effect on ALDH which is the enzyme that breaks down alcohol in your liver. After testing it in rat cells, they found that asparagus also enhanced the activity of ALDH.
As a result, they concluded that asparagus potentially has protective properties for the liver.
With that said, it’s important to emphasize that in terms of research impact, this study has very limited value. This is because the research small scale and carried out on rat cells in a petri dish. Therefore, in terms of real-life applications for asparagus as a hangover remedy, it has limited value.
Other than this, asparagus is a good source of antioxidants that can help protect your body from free-radical damage, much like any other green leafy vegetable.
The bottom line: The hangover busting properties of asparagus are based on a 2009 study which showed it may protect rat cells from alcohol-related damage. Therefore, it’s not as yet proven whether asparagus works as a hangover cure.
When to eat asparagus for a hangover
Although it’s unclear whether asparagus works as a hangover aid, you may want to try it anyway. When it comes to hangovers, all steps need to be taken before you’re actually hungover. Whether it’s asparagus or any other natural hangover remedy, consuming nutrients while alcohol and it’s by-products have caused the damage in the first place is key.
If you’ve woken up with a hangover after a big night out, nothing much apart from time, water and painkillers will help. By this stage, the damage has been done.
Anything else to consider?
Hangovers are a sign from your body that you’ve had too much alcohol for your body to handle. They’re easily avoidable by drinking less, making sure you keep well hydrated and sticking to lighter colored drinks with fewer congeners.
If you’ve had a few too many drinks at happy hour and are interested in steps you can take to soften the blow, check out our article on how to prevent a hangover.
Asparagus for hangovers – The final verdict
So, that brings us to the end of our look at whether Asparagus works as a hangover cure or not.
We’ve walked you through the basic things that you need to know about how alcohol causes hangovers. In addition, we’ve looked into the nutritional benefits of Asparagus, as well as reviewed the currently available research.
Asparagus contains antioxidants that could have protective properties. However, at the moment it’s unproven.